Leopards caged as Tusker inch closer to the top

May 05, 2012
  • Tusker's Joseph Shikokoti head's the ball during their match against Rangers in their 4-2 win in their KPL match at the Nyayo National Stadium.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

Kenyan Premier League leaders AFC Leopards received a major reality check when they suffered a humbling 0-3 defeat at the hands of erstwhile bottom side Nairobi City Stars to cede massive grounds to reigning champions Tusker in the title race.

Nairobi City Stars 3 AFC Leopards 0

City Stars pulled off what many considered a ‘mission impossible’ – comprehensive 3-0 thrashing of Leopards that hoisted from the relegation zone and at the same time extending Ingwe’s winless run to three matches.

After a barren first half, City Stars struck three quick fire goals that knocked the wind off Leopards sails before a stunned crowd at the Nyayo National Stadium.

City Stars Ugandan import Dan Sserenkuma was the Ingwe’s chief destroyer, grabbing a second half brace that was sandwiched Boniface Onyango’s strike.

Sserenkum delivered the first blow in the 56th minute getting to the end of Peter Akango’s free kick for the match opener.

Seven minutes later, Onyango doubled City Stars lead running to Francis Thairu’s through pass to lash an unstoppable shot past a stranded Patrick Matasi between the sticks. But City Stars were not yet done with Leopards.

Sserunkuma delivered a delightful chip over the advancing Matasi in the 70th minute to hammer the final nail on Leopards’ coffin.

Eric Masika’s withdrawal with a hamstring injury early on in the game exposed Ingwe's soft underbelly even with Charles Okwemba and Martin Imbalambala deployed at the back. Upfront, Mike Baraza and Allan Wanga were colourless and had to be replaced with Laurent Tumba and Augustine Etemesi.

However, neither failed to inspire Leopards. The bitter loss comes in the backdrop of leadership wrangles that have lately rocked the Leopards’ den.

Leopards are without a win in their last three matches following a 2-0 loss to Tusker a fortnight ago and last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Karuturi Sports in Naivasha.

Leopards’ coach Jan Koop s blamed the loss on lack of fighting spirit by his charges and Masika’s injury. “Masika's injury greatly affected our defensive formation. Losing is part of the game, but we will bounce back” he said.

"But don't think we are down we will be back!"

Meanwhile, with the win City Stars have moved to 11 points, leapfrogging Rangers and Oserian who occupy the bottom slots.

Tusker 4 Rangers 2

Earlier at the same venue, reigning champions Tusker made light work of Rangers 4-2 to move within two points of Leopards at the top of the table.

Jerry Santos grabbed a brace either side of the break with Jockins Atudo scoring from the spot to add on to Edward Kauka’s own-goal.

Rangers replied through Charles Pilipili’s 18th minute strike and Japhary Oyando’s goal in the 73rd minute. Rangers’ efforts proved too little too late with the brewers holding on for a big win.

Rangers skipper Pascal Ochieng blamed the loss on the referee for awarding Tusker an ‘Illegitimate’ penalty. But Tusker coach Sammy Omollo praised his players for working hard to ensure they bagged all three points.

''Hardwork won the game for us today. We did not kept our cool even in the face of pressure from our opponents”, Omollo said. Tusker moved one place to second on the table with 25 points, while Leopards stay on top of the pile with 27 points from thirteen matches.

 

Nesta Kizito

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